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The Lies That Bind

Rethinking Identity
Narrated by: Kwame Anthony Appiah
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: History, World
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

We all know how identities - notably, those of nationality, class, culture, race, and religion - are at the root of global conflict, but the more elusive truth is that these identities are created by conflict in the first place. 

In provocative, entertaining chapters, Kwame Anthony Appiah interweaves keen-edged argument with engrossing historical tales - from Anton Wilhelm Amo, the 18th-century African child who became an eminent European academic, to Italo Svevo, the literary genius who changed countries without leaving home - and reveals the tangled contradictions within the stories that define us. The concept of the sovereign nation, Appiah tells us, is incoherent. Our everyday notions of race are the detritus of discarded science; the very idea of Western culture is a shimmering mirage. These beliefs, and more, are crafted from confusions - confusions Appiah sorts through to imagine a more hopeful future.

©2018 Kwame Anthony Appiah (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"The author narrates his own work and does a terrific job. His reassuring, playful voice, tinged with a British accent, is immediately friendly and knowledgeable....overall, Appiah can count himself a double-threat." (AudioFile)

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Profile Image for Christina Beck
  • Christina Beck
  • 10-08-19

Fresh air for identity consideration

Appiah effectively describes, considers, and invites wonder about the ways we experience and judge identities. Religion, gender, race, class (including money, education, and social connections) are all tested and questioned and asked to hold up to a test of whether they indeed divide humanity or whether we make the mistake of projecting “essential” identity qualities on complicated humans and flatten our opportunities for reliable and humane relationships.

Highly recommended - especially the audio version read by the author. (For those of us who are audio learners)

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  • Craig C.
  • 07-05-19

Different perspectives

Including class as an identity group was helpful since it is commonly left out. It seems to be an overlay to all of the major identity groups.

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  • j mason
  • 18-04-19

Riveting discussion of Identity, Class, Movement of Culture around the World and More

I loved this book. It is in some ways a series of stories about the development and migration of culture around the world. It weaves concepts of race, religion, power, human rights, wealth, nobility, slavery, prejudice, literature and philosophy into notions of how we see or identify ourselves and others. It is sometimes laugh out loud funny, many times troubling, fascinating and learned. The author has a complex personal family history that leads to the authenticity of his views and opinions.

I learned so much. Much to ponder deeply as I reflect on the book.

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  • Judith M. McLean
  • 25-01-19

MIND BOGGLING AS AUTHOR ZOOMS THROUGH FACTS

Love the topic and the author is obviously brilliant, however he zooms through facts so quickly it is impossible to absorb. One moment he discussing a culture in India and the next sentence one in Croatia. While using so many great examples to make the point in his book, the listener cannot absorb the frequent changes from all the religious, cultural and societal illustrations. If one is not familiar with the culture, the religion or a quoted poet, there is not enough elaboration to give the listener a chance to understand the content. Also the narrator and author is a fast talker with an English accent that can make grasping what he is saying a bit of a challenge. Maybe reading the book in paper would be helpful.

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  • Roozbeh
  • 02-12-18

Fascinating and lovely!

I really enjoyed listening to this book and the lovely and engaging voice of Appiah.

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  • Frank
  • 22-10-18

Not full of SJW nonsense

I was skeptical at first. The last thing I need is to listen to some SJW drone on about micro-agressions and intersectionality. The book does contain a robust discussion of intersectionality, without the meaningless word salad that usually accompanies such piffle.

I was also quite irritated, at first, at the idea that "western culture" isn't really a thing. It sounds a bit like the racist trope of "white people have no culture", which often follows the laughable claim the people of color cannot be racist. However, he eventually gets to his actual point, that "western culture" is actually a fairly new concept, and the ideals we ascribe to western culture are hardly universal within countries that claim the western identity. I don't entirely disagree, but I do appreciate the author's attempts to not obfuscate the real progress that has been made by, what I call, western culture.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

8 of 19 people found this review helpful